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Set Working Hours Vs Actual Hours Worked

Published: Monday 25th November 2019

“Presenteeism” describes a situation when someone is at work but not really 100% there, not at their best or maybe a little distracted. British employees might be spending at least 8 hours per day at the office, in accordance with their set working hours, however, this does not necessarily reflect their actual hours worked.

Photo of two colleagues discussing about the project in the office

Different nations and the working-hours norm

Surveys indicate that Mexicans put in significantly longer hours than any other country, while the Greeks rank first, as the Europeans who spend the most time at work. On the other hand, German employees find themselves working the fewest hours. On average Mexicans spend over 2,200 hours working annually, with Greeks cashing in 2,035 and Germans just 1,363 hours. Simultaneously, UK workers work an average of 1,676 hours per year ranking among nations that work the most.

Interestingly, long working hours have little to do with productivity in those countries, with the main determinants of any variations being cultural attitudes and a range of social and economic factors. For example, Germany manages to maintain high productivity levels as German workers are 27% more productive than the British.

Young employee looking at computer monitor during working day in office

The most popular unproductive work activities

Employees spend over 1-hour reading news websites at work, almost 45 minutes checking their social media profiles and 40 minutes discussing non-work-related things with co-workers. Remarkably, 26 minutes are spent daily by employees searching for new jobs, while 23 minutes on average go on taking smoking breaks. The list includes texting or instant messaging, eating snacks and making food in the office.

Another survey supports that for over 20% of employees, the biggest drain on their productivity is caused by the presence of a co-worker, workplace gossip and questions distracting their attention away from tasks.

Happy diverse team people talking laughing at funny joke eating ordered pizza in office,

The UK set-vs-actual-hours-working paradox

Despite British employees spending a lot of hours on average in the office, productivity across the UK has fallen to a dramatic low. 25% of workers admit they are unproductive for up to two hours a day. In addition, Brits fail to meet deadlines at least once a week and more than 60% support a four-day working week would help increase productivity.

So, what is holding the UK workforce back? The biggest causes of distraction for respondents as mentioned are talking to colleagues (47%), along with social media, mobile use and flirting. Moreover, 25% of office workers claim that having fewer meetings would help them be more productive. As a result, Brits are among the top of the list for doing overtime and bringing work home too often, struggling with maintaining a reasonable level of work-life balance.

Happy diverse team people talking laughing at funny joke eating ordered pizza in office

Top tips to stay focused at work

However, achieving this balance doesn’t mean you have to make massive changes. In fact, making some small modifications to how you operate at work can result in noticeable improvements, being all about staying focused and working smarter. Not harder! So, here are our top tips to help you stay focused…

Plan ahead – Every day before starting to work, write down 3 most important things you need to accomplish by the end of the day and stick to it.

Set your own deadlines – If you feel no pressure to complete a task, you’ll likely procrastinate on it twice as much. Therefore, it is likely you’ll be more efficient when setting clear deadlines for all the tasks in your to-do list.

Turn off notifications – You can’t fully focus unless you’re absolutely free of these small cunning distractions called notifications! So, go to your phone settings and turn off notifications for email, Facebook messages, and other irrelevant apps. Make a habit out of checking your phone every now and again – ideally during your lunch break – but don’t do it 1,000 times for 5 hours!

Work Smarter Not Harder Concept.

Block distracting websites – The easiest way to resist the temptation of browsing is to use productivity tools and create a blacklist of distracting websites to block your access for a certain amount of time.

Create a 3-hour working zone – Working on full steam requires planning, so schedule a daily 3-hour working zone. During this time tell other team members and colleagues politely, you’re not to be bothered with any requests.

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